Atlanta Public Schools’ $854 million general fund budget for the 2019-20 academic year (fiscal 2020) includes monies for a variety of programs, including staff raises as promised by Gov. Brian Kemp, with help from the district.
The Atlanta Board of Education approved the budget June 3 at its monthly legislative meeting at the district’s headquarters downtown.
Highlights of the spending plan include:
♦ $281 million to continue the district’s commitment to increase equity throughout the system through developing school budgets using the Student Success Funding formula, which bases school funding on student attributes such as poverty, English language learners, early Intervention Programs and remedial education programs.
♦ $46.9 million in support of investments in quality early childhood education, leadership development, whole-child development (including the arts, athletics and behavior supports), and investments in pre-K through third grade to ensure all students are reading by the end of third grade.
♦ More than $10.2 million to provide targeted academic and wraparound support for targeted-tier schools, as well as schools transitioning from targeted-tier to intensive-tier, due to demonstrated gains on the state accountability metric.
♦ $12 million in salary raises for all employees and keeps in alignment our pay scales and initiatives as set forth in the pay parity plan from 2015.
♦ Non-teacher pay raises, which include a step and a 1% increase for pay grades 111 through 124 (total 2.45%), a step only for pay grades 125 through 140 (total 1.2%), and a $700 one-time payment for eligible employees who are off-step.
♦ Pay parity adjustments that include increasing school resource officer holidays equivalent to other employees, adjusting the JROTC instructor work schedule and supporting some position reclassifications.
Additionally, raises for employees on the teacher pay scale equal an average of $2,000 (3.3%) per teacher and include a $1,000 one-time payment for eligible employees who are off-step. The fiscal 2020 state budget did not provide funding equivalent to what would be a $3,000 raise for teachers in the district, largely due to the fact that the district employs more teachers and other crucial wraparound staff than is funded through the state funding formula, and raises for all these employees must be 100% paid for from local funds.
Also, the amount district and other large districts receive from the state is reduced due to the “local fair share” funding formula the state uses. It intends to provide the full $3,000 pay raise to teachers if it’s able to secure the additional revenue in the coming months, and would pay that retroactively to the start of the school year.
“APS’ (fiscal) 2020 budget continues our dedication to putting our students and schools first and to being fully transparent with the community about our funding priorities,” district Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said in a news release. “We believe this budget is fair and balanced and provides equity for all of our students. I want to thank the board of education, our budget commission members and our chief financial officer, Lisa Bracken, and her team for their hard work on the budget. I also want to thank our APS staff and the community for their input and engagement during our budget-building process.
“Although the budget has been approved, we continue to urge the city of Atlanta to honor the entire Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) involving the TADs (tax allocation districts), starting with the $10 million settlement payment due back in January 2019. As we receive confirmation that the city has honored the IGA, it is our plan to fully fund the teacher raises.”
The budgeting process started in September and included input from the public through a variety of meetings and hearings.